January 04, 2018

911 Tips for the New Year

If you unwrapped a new smart phone recently on Christmas Day, Sask911 reminds you to do your part to protect the integrity of the 911 system by making sure you understand how your high-tech gift accesses emergency services.

“Smart phones are great tools that make our lives easier, but they also have functions that need to be used properly,” Saskatchewan’s Emergency Management and Fire Safety Commissioner Duane McKay said.  “Everyone can do their part to ensure 911 operators and emergency service dispatchers are available to serve those in need.”

For example, iPhones with newer operating systems can have their lock button clicked five times to have the option to swipe SOS.  After swiping SOS, the smart phone dials 911.  However, this function does not ping your location to Sask911.

“Sask911 has received some calls from people testing the feature, which ties up valuable resources,” McKay said.  “We want to be proactive and remind people to please call 911 only when there’s a real emergency.  If you do accidently dial 911 for whatever reason, please stay on the line so staff can verify quickly that there isn’t a real emergency.”

Smart phone users should also ensure their phones are locked when carrying them in a purse, pocket or bag to prevent accidental 911 calls.

From January to November of this year, Sask911 operators took 330,281 calls.  Of those, 58 per cent or 190,296 were from a cell phone, and 12 per cent or 40,046 were abandoned – meaning a caller hung up after dialing.

Other tips to help prevent accidental 911 calls:

  • Manually dialing 911 instead of preprogramming the number in your phone; and
  • Teaching your children the importance of 911 and when it should and should not be used.

General 911 tips:

  • When calling, say where you are and identify which emergency services you require, such as police, fire or ambulance.
  • Try to remain calm and be able to provide additional information, if requested by an operator.
  • Don’t hang up until an operator advises you to do so.